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As an under represented minority, what do you watch out for when job hunting?

sloan profile image Sloan ・1 min read

This is an anonymous question sent in by a member who does not want their name disclosed. Please be thoughtful with your responses, as these are usually tough questions to ask and answer.

I'm currently working in a toxic environment, and today, my previous intern told me that the company offered them a full-time position. They also have offers from several other companies so they came to me for advice.

Since I can personally vouch for 'how things really are' here, I can be helpful. However, most people (especially new grads or those transitioning to tech) don't have these types of connections. It's easy for companies to appear diverse and inclusive, when they're really not.

When you don't have pre-existing connections or a community to lean on, what should you be watching out for? Any advice on reading between the lines?

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Sloan

@sloan

I help moderate content and welcome new users to this platform. I also ask questions on behalf of members looking for advice from the community.

Discussion

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Assuming zero community support, I'd do as much research on the individuals on their team as possible -- read their blogs, find them on social and try to get a sense of their personality and how they communicate with both their peers and colleagues.

 

In addition to everything that others have said, here's some thoughts based on some friends' experiences that doesn't always come to mind:

Who's your boss's boss? Or your boss's boss's boss?

Sometimes you'll meet the people you'll be working with and things seem great, but things change within an org and you don't want to realize that once you get a new manager, you're now in a terrible environment.

On this note, the company itself might be a subsidiary of a larger company with wholly different culture and values. This will wind up creeping into your life more than you think. Companies like this are more connected in ways like shared holiday parties, promotions between organizations, top-down politics, etc.

 
  • I'd check out glassdoor,
  • I'd look at the ways employees engage in discussions online, via posts or conferences or social media.
  • I'd also look for folks who are past employees, particularly URMs and investigate how they talk about where they are now, compared to where they were before.
  • last, I'd look at conferences that support URMs, and see if the company has sponsored, moreover, if they've had speakers or employees attend.
 

Don't have much to say since I don't have much interviewing experience, but I hope the two of you find a better work environment!

 

I look at a few things throughout the process!

  1. Scrutinize the job description. If the language isn't inclusive, or uses gendered terms, or "code ninja" phrases, it's a good sign that they obviously didn't think about who might be reading their job post, which indicates a toxic environment.
  2. Research the team, a lot. Google them, look at their linkedins, check to see if they have an engineering blog and who is writing those posts. See if their team speaks at conferences, and who is visible (if anyone). It'll tell you a lot about how supportive (if at all) the management and leadership is. Particularly keep an eye out for POC and URMs, and see if the company uplifts and supports them, their voices, and their work.
  3. Keep your eyes peeled during the interview process. Do they have any URMs in the interview process, at all? Are they speaking equally, or is one person dominating the conversation? When you interview with management, specifically ask them what they do to support engineers on their team, and look for concrete answers, not vague ones. If you interview with a member of the team who is from an underrepresented group, be sure to ask them about their experience. I like to ask them what drew them to this company/why they chose it. Their answer might shed a lot of light on whether the environment is toxic or welcoming.

I'm sure there are more things to look out for, but these are the main ones that come to mind! I hope this helps. ☺️